Much to my delight, Caffe Vita was invited to attend the first ever Indonesian Specialty Coffee Auction, which took place last week in Bali. Not quite knowing what to expect I made the journey half way around the world to see, smell, and taste what could be considered the finest from one of the largest producers of coffee in the world. Submissions throughout the archipelago had been collected, with only twenty-three coffees making the grade, of which seven were small lots of the notorious luwak (civet) coffee.
Before the festivities began I wanted to gain some knowledge about the local production of coffee, so I went on a day trip through the Kintamani highlands, a volcanic plateau with an average elevation of 1000-1700 meters.
The agricultural production on the island has been well organized for generations through the subak abian, which functions similar to a co-op and is based on the principle that happiness is a result of maintaining a healthy relationship with other people, the environment, and the gods. The farmer can utilize the subak abian to process and sell their harvest, which in addition to coffee may include cloves, orange, cocoa, and rice.
A leading member of the subak abian, Mr. Astika Nyoman III, accompanied us on the trip. Here he is describing the various plants and shade cover that grow in harmony with the coffee, and some of the challenges that face the local farmers.
One challenge has been a lack of water for processing, but as a response the natural method (in which the entire cherry is sun-dried on a raised bed) is now being used for a portion of the harvest and the results have been interesting — a cup with huge chocolaty body, brandied fruit aromas, and good sweetness. This spirit of experimentation is encouraging in a region that is constantly challenged by the ever present whim of nature.
More from Bali to come soon…
A big, wet, success. But, you can’t say that the weather didn’t make for some classic Seattle events.
This past weekend, Caffé Vita and Via Tribunali Pizze came out to support some really good causes. On Saturday, both were on hand at the 5th Annual Downtown Throwdown snowboard event selling espresso and pizza to benefit our friends at The Service Board. On Sunday, both were up dark and early to support runners at the Run Vera Run, a benefit running race for the Vera Project. Much hot coffee, espresso, and pizza was served to the volunteers and brave participants of the rainy run.
Check the slideshow!!!
As we reported last week, all of our cafés now have our Ethiopia Niguise Lemma available in 12oz bags. We are now offering this exclusive and delicious bean to our loyal online customers. Availability is limited, and we only roast it once a week, so please allow a possible few days for your order to go out. Here’s what our green bean buyer, Daniel, said about it:
And now a coffee to celebrate the fall, a stand out from Western Ethiopia: the dry processed Nigusie Lemma. This coffee was among the first available through the Direct Specialty Trade auctions in Addis Ababa, an event organized to provide buyers with traceability and the assurance that over 85% of the price paid made its way back to the farmers. We are proud to participate in this exciting development in Ethiopia, which represents a step in what we believe to be the right direction.
A dry-processed coffee of this caliber is a rare thing and worth celebrating; since too often this process results in inconsistencies due to uneven drying and sorting. Commonplace in dry processed coffees are flavors of dirt and over-ripe fruit. The Nigusie Lemma, however, is consistently clean, sweet, and delicious. The first thing to jump out is the aroma of ripe peaches and maraschino cherry, with a hint of amaretto. This candied fruit aroma is complimented by oily almond butter body, and orange juice acidity.
Location: Limmu Kossa, Mitto Gunim
Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopian Longberry
Certification: DST Auction Lot
Body: Medium, oily
Acidity: Bright Orange
Aroma: peach, maraschino, almond
Flavor: orange, chocolate, mango
Order online here…
Caffé Vita Roasterie: Coffee Bean Crackin’ from jvoss on Vimeo.
We asked one of our roasters, Jacob, to explain what we hear every time a fresh batch of roasted beans in dropped into the cooling tray in our roasterie:
Coffee is much like corn in that when you apply heat it pops or “cracks.” Coffee, however, is different in that it has two distinct times in which it cracks: “first” and “second” crack, as we like to refer to them. From the drop of the beans into the roaster, up until the first crack the coffee bean is basically receiving energy or heat. It eventually gets to a point where it cannot take any more and the cell structure actually begins to break or crack. That is the audible sound that one hears when close to the roaster. In between the first crack and the second crack is generally where the flavor development happens. Essentially, as heat continues to be applied it releases or sets free the volatile flavor oils that we know as the coffee flavor. Also, this is where the browning and caramelization occurs to help create that nutty flavor and color that is coffee. However, like all things, this period must come to an end and it is generally denoted by the second crack: what you are hearing on the video. This second crack does not mean the same thing for all roasters, particular roasts, or particular coffees. Roasting is a craft and depending on what you are trying to accomplish or what you might deem as correct, a roaster might drop the beans into the cooling tray well before the second crack or far beyond it. This is what makes coffee roasting and experimenting with new beans and blends such an interesting job.